Rick Santorum on School Shootings: These Kids Come From Broken Homes Without Dads

(Photo: Reuters/Mike Stone)U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum poses for a photograph with a man at the North Texas Presidential Forum hosted by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, October 18, 2015.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum told CNN host Jake Tapper in an interview that the public debate after the Parkland mass shooting should not be focused only on gun control, but also on kids growing up in broken homes or in the absence of their fathers.

On "State of the Union" on Sunday, Tapper cited the results of a CNN poll that claimed the support for stricter gun laws is now at its highest since 1993, with the backing of about 70 percent of respondents. "I just don't believe the poll. I just think it is an outlier poll," Santorum responded.

Santorum questioned the proportion of Republicans in the CNN poll.

"That poll only had 23 percent Republicans in the poll. The numbers should be more reflective of the 35 to 40 percent that is Republican in this country," he said.

The senator then said that "these kids come from broken homes without dads, and that is not something we're talking about."

"We want to talk about things we can work together on, how about working together to try to see what we can do to get more dads involved in the lives of their kids," he stressed.

"The idea that we're going to ban these (guns) is never going to happen and the idea that we're even focused on this when there are so many other issues that are much more relevant to the systemic problem we have in this country of the breakdown of the family and father …"

A 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire with a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, killing 17 people.

Cruz had attended the same school from Jan. 13, 2016 to Feb. 8, 2017, when he was expelled due to discipline issues. He later said he heard voices in his head, describing them as demons, as he gunned down his victims.

He bought the rifle from Sunrise Tactical Supply in Coral Springs just three days after his last day at the school on Feb. 11, 2017. Cruz passed a background check despite having a history of violence and mental health concerns. He was battling autism and grief from recent relationship heartbreak and the death of his adoptive mother, according to reports.

His father, Roger Cruz, had died in 2004. He and his brother were then adopted and raised by Lynda Cruz, who died in November of pneumonia.

Broward County Sheriff's office had received more than a dozen calls about Cruz, and one caller had described him as a "school shooter in the making."

The caller, a woman, had urged law enforcement to have a look at Cruz's Instagram pictures, according to a transcript of the phone call published by The Associated Press.

"It's alarming to see these pictures and know what he is capable of doing and what could happen," the woman said. "He's thrown out of all these schools because he would pick up a chair and just throw it at somebody, a teacher or a student, because he didn't like the way they were talking to him."